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Comparing Trading Platforms: Robinhood, Webull, Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade

The following article is strictly the opinion of the author and is to not be considered financial/investment advice. Call to Leap LLC and the author of this article does not claim to be a registered financial advisor (RIA) or financial advisor. Please visit our terms of service and privacy policy before reading this article.

Which Trading Platform is Best?

If you just started trading or you’re thinking about trading stocks and options, you’re probably overwhelmed by all the choices out there. And it seems like every year there’s a new platform offering similar or competitive perks to other platforms. We wanna break down some of the basics about the differences between four of our favorite trading brokerages, so it’ll make it easier for you to decide which one to go with.

So at the top of our list is Robinhood. If you’re a millennial or in an even younger generation, you’ve probably heard of this one.

Founded in 2013, Robinhood is known for its ultra-sleek and user-friendly interface which makes navigating through their app a breeze. It currently offers commission-free trading on all securities that are offered.

You can trade stocks, cryptocurrency, level 3 options, and use margin. When we’re talking about options, you’re allowed to operate nearly any kind of spread except for box spreads. Although Robinhood claims that box spreads are not allowed due to hidden dividend risks, it came after one of its users engaged in a box spread strategy which ended up putting his account value at a 2000% loss. Perfect timing. And about perfect timing, following the Coronavirus crash, Robinhood encountered a massive outage which lasted a day in a half where all of its users were locked out of their accounts during crucial trade opportunities. This may be old news, but plenty of people still feel the burn.

Now let’s look at WeBull. Like Robinhood, WeBull offers commission-free trading on stocks and options. WeBull came out after Robinhood when commission-free online trading proved to be a huge opportunity for online brokerages. WeBull is a bit new to the options game so they currently offer up to level 2 options trading. At the time of this recording, they are currently working on getting level 3 options trading up. One of the cool things about WeBull is that it offers paper trading which lets you test your moves with “play” money and see the results before you execute them with your money. Since we covered Robinhood’s outages, looking at WeBull, there hasn’t been a catastrophic outage in the same ballpark as Robinhood but there have been some server connection issues from time to time.

TD Ameritrade’s Think or Swim trading platform has been around since the late 2000’s, which is much longer than Robinhood and WeBull. They offer a robust, battle-tested, tried and true trading environment for investors. At this time, TD Ameritrade also offers commission-free trades on stocks, ETFs, and options. However, there is a $.65 contract fee for options trades. TD Ameritrade’s interface is less user-friendly especially for beginning traders but offers an extremely robust and rich library of tools which has a steep learning curve. However, this is why many experienced traders tend to prefer Think or Swim. In addition to stocks and options, Think or Swim offers futures trading at a contract fee charge of $2.25, expanding investors’ selection of investment vehicles. Back in August this year in 2020, Think or Swim also struggled with outage issues.

Moving on to Charles Schwab, like TD Ameritrade, Charles Schwab has been around for quite some time. Both companies used to charge commission fees but to keep up with companies like Robinhood, they’ve opted to commission free trading as well. Like TD Ameritrade, Charles Schwab offers no commission trading of options plus a $.65 per contract. Charles Schwab’s futures fees are at $1.50 per contract. Who knows, if Robinhood gets into zero commission futures trading, we might see these other older companies follow suit. Charles Schwab’s trading platform is also more for seasoned traders as it offers more tools and configurations to run the platform.

So let’s break this down once more to summarize the differences

  • Robinhood has commission free trading, up to level 3 options, and has a very low learning curve.

  • WeBull also has commission free trading, up to level 2 options trading, paper trading, and a moderately low learning curve.

  • TD Ameritrade’s think or swim platform has commission free trading for stocks and options with a $.65 contract fee on options, has up to level 3 options trading, futures trading at a $2.25 contract fee, paper trading, more tools, such a scanners to filters out securities based on certain parameters you put in, and has a steep learning curve

  • Charles Schwab has commission free trading for stocks and options with a $.65 contract fee on options, has up to level 3 options trading, futures trading at a $1.50 contract fee, and also has a paper trading platform and a moderate to steep learning curve.

So it really comes down to how sophisticated a trader you are. If you’re a new trader with no experience, or you’ve been trading for a while but you want to keep things simple, you might want to get your feet wet with either Robinhood or WeBull. If you’re into monitoring tools and fine-tuned controls over your trades and you want to also trade futures, you might want to spend time learning how to trade on Think or Swim or on Charles Schwab’s platform. Now in terms of outages, every platform always has the possibility of encountering server issues or downtime. So it’s hard to judge based off of that. You’ll see on forums, other Youtube videos, or twitter feeds where people are literally raging over the downtime, threatening to leave because of the outage, on nearly every trading platform out there.

If you want to open up a brokerage account right now, you can open one with Robinhood and/or WeBull right now. If you click on our referral codes, you’ll automatically get 1-2 free stocks that can be worth up to $1600! On top of that, opening up a brokerage account is free!

So there you have it, four trading platforms and their differences. We will review other trading platforms in the future so stay tuned for more posts where we break down the differences of each brokerage. If you’re new to options trading and investing and want to learn how to make some extra cash at home, you can sign up for a membership here. We will show you all of the stocks we're investing in and coach you step-by-step on how to sell covered calls and cash-secured puts, aka the Wheel Strategy. We teach all of our exclusive members on how to easily make $800-$8000 a month just by using their phones for 5-15 minutes on a Monday morning. Learning this strategy has helped many people reach financial freedom, pursue their life passions, and spend more time with friends and family.

PS: we're planning to release our Level 2 series on LEAPs in the middle of the month! Here's the thing: we're going to reward current standard members by grandfathering them into level 2 so if you haven't already subscribed to our standard membership where you'll learn about selling covered calls and cash-secured puts to create an additional income stream on companies like Costco, make sure you sign up! What we'll teach in level 2 is very complementary to level 1 so you're going to want to tune in.

-Call to Leap Team


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